At the beginning of the week we sent our second batch of pigs to the butcher. They are now turning into delicious cuts of pork. On a conventional pig farm sending pigs to the butcher is a pretty straight forward event. All your pigs are already in a confined space and there are walkways and systems set up in order to load them right onto a trailer.
Things are quite different here on our farm. First of all the pigs are out on pasture and as they get bigger we continue to give them more and more space to run around. These pigs had an electric fence keeping them in on about 1 acre of land so getting all 6 of them into a small area and loaded onto the trailer was not necessarily going to be a smooth undertaking. We built a small fenced area and put some feed on the ground inside it and got the pigs to walk in here. Next we backed up the trailer and made the opening of the trailer part of the fenced in area. The challenge ahead is that pigs are not the most acrobatic of creatures and they would have to step upwards in order to get onto the trailer. We build steps for them. Three of them got on the trailer and we took them over to the barn thinking we would come back for the other three which wee still inside the small fence. When we returned the pigs were nowhere to be seen. They had found a way out of the small fenced area and returned to their large fenced area. We would have to catch them in there and wait for them to get in again. We thought this should wait for the next day as they had experienced enough excitement for one day. The next day we tried it again and Kevin managed to back up the trailer right to a large mound in the ground so that the step was not necessary. The trailer was something new and interesting to the pigs and they wanted to check it out. They walked on and off and back on again and we waited patiently. The most important thing is that they do not find this experience to be stressful so patience on our part is very important. Finally there were two pigs on the trailer and one with its front feet on the trailer, unsure if it could make the next step. Kevin got behind the pig and tried to encourage it to go on the trailer. Finally he picked up its back legs and gave it a little push. We closed the doors.
All six pigs spent the night in the barn and the next day they got right on the trailer to go to the butcher. We were happy to see the process go smoothly and be stress free for us and for the animals. This also means more pork in the freezers soon and more healthy meat for you!